Cross Purposes

Gold and brown crosses installed on gallery wall

December 2, 2016-February 12, 2017
Curated by Bill Swislow and Rich Bowen

Stanley Szwarc, a Polish book keeper turned metal worker and then artist after arriving in the United States, gave no indication of being particularly religious, but, in his world, crosses were powerful. A prolific creator of objects from scrap stainless steel, always demonstrating over-the-top imagination, Szwarc made hundreds of crosses, if not thousands. He produced jewelry, he made crosses to be hung on the wall, and he crafted cruciform objects with no apparent use other than to be carriers of his endless combinations of geometric shapes. If you were lucky to see Szwarc late in the year, you also could acquire snowflakes, some small enough to hang on a tree, some that required serious wall space. All of it, crosses and snowflakes alike, ornamented out of a vision that seemed as obscure to Szwarc as it was beloved to those who followed his work.

"I have never considered myself an artist," he said. "I'm just a clever handyman."

Szwarc’s greatest point of pride was that no two of his objects, be they crosses, vases, boxes or snowflakes, were alike. The evidence plainly supports that contention while demonstrating a virtuosic artistic vision that could not contain itself, always seeking fascinating ways to vary the ornamentation, to create objects of surprise, delight and striking beauty.

Thornton Dial (1928-2016),  Royal Flag , c. 1997-98. Mixed media, 78 x 80 x 7 in. William S. Arnett Collection of Souls Grown Deep Foundation, © 2016 Estate of Thornton Dial / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Thornton Dial (1928-2016), Royal Flag, c. 1997-98. Mixed media, 78 x 80 x 7 in. William S. Arnett Collection of Souls Grown Deep Foundation, © 2016 Estate of Thornton Dial / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

July 15, 2016-January 8, 2017
Curated by Faheem Majeed

As a celebration of Intuit’s 25th anniversary, Intuit will revisit the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s groundbreaking 1982 exhibition Black Folk Art in America 1930–1980. The exhibition, curated by Faheem Majeed, showcases artists included in the original exhibition as well as artists whose work and practice parallels the selection criteria for the original Black Folk Art in America exhibition.

A pivotal exhibition in showcasing artists rarely seen outside of their close knit southern and urban communities, Black Folk Art in America played a significant role in bringing to light the lack of acknowledgement, understanding, and representation of black visual culture within American art museums’ collections and exhibitions.  The exhibition galvanized many African-Americans in the arts community to challenge the Corcoran’s choice of artists, artwork, and terminology used to represent the rarely seen black visual culture within the institution.  The show sparked unforeseen debates around museum exhibition and collection diversity, the terminology associated with self-taught artists, and the marginalization of black artists within majority institutions. 

Additionally, the exhibition was also the catalyst for many collectors in this space and laid the seeds for a number of organizations dedicated to showcasing the artists included in the exhibition and artists producing related work.

Through the catalogue, works on view, discussions, off-site tours, presentations, performances, and interviews the exhibition will explore the layers of terminology, debate, ideas, artists, collectors and communities impacted by the term “Black Folk Art”.

Visit the following links to read recent coverage of this exhibition:
Chicago Reader
Chicago Sun-Times

Pop-Up: Mark Hudson

Mark Hudson.  The Boxer , July 16, 2014.  Colored chalk on paper, 22 x 28 in. (55.88 x 71.12 cm). Arient Family Collection

Mark Hudson. The Boxer, July 16, 2014.
Colored chalk on paper, 22 x 28 in.
(55.88 x 71.12 cm). Arient Family Collection

October 20-November 27, 2016
Curated by Matt Arient and Jan Petry

Mark Hudson is a 46-year-old lifelong resident of Evanston, Illinois. He is an artist, poet and short story writer. He graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1988 and received a degree in creative writing from Columbia College. Mark remembers being interested in art from the age of four. His uncle, a printing house executive, gave him a box of paper, and Mark quickly used it up making his drawings. As a youngster, Mark wanted to be a cartoonist and used MAD magazine to learn his craft.

Wherever he goes, Mark carries a sketchbook or a camera or both to capture people and places that fascinate him. At home, he focuses on turning his ideas into paintings and drawings. He says, “It’s much more rewarding than just watching television.” His one-bedroom apartment is teeming with his art, from wall-sized paintings to colorful miniatures. He rents a storage space to hold his earlier work. Mark says, “Being an artist is like keeping the magic of childhood alive.”

Anonymous,  Man Cross Dressing , Mid 20th century, graphite and colored pencil on paper, Courtesy of the Kinsey Institute

Anonymous, Man Cross Dressing, Mid 20th century, graphite and colored pencil on paper, Courtesy of the Kinsey Institute

August 12-October 16, 2016
Curated by Blaise Cronin, Rudy Professor Emeritus of Information Science; Rebecca Fasman; Garry Milius; and Besty Stirrat, Director, Grunwald Gallery of Art, Indiana University Bloomington

Private Eyes: Selected Artwork from the Kinsey Institute Collectionexplores the unique characteristics of homemade erotic artifacts. The 16 one-of-a-kind items on display include drawings, paintings, prints, carved figures, and fabric crafts from the Kinsey Institute’s permanent collection of art. These artworks, spanning the naively playful to the transgressive, were intended for private consumption and created with specific individuals in mind. To date, these materials have received scant scholarly or sociological attention.

The Kinsey Institute is a research institute at Indiana University devoted to the study of human sexuality. The unique research collections include over 500,000 library and archival materials, art and artifacts, and film and photography representing more than 2,000 years of human history and experience.

Visit the following links to read coverage of this exhibition:
Brut Force
Chicago Reader
The Huffington Post

For more information on the Kinsey Insitute, visit

Postcard design by Sandra Mars

Postcard design by Sandra Mars

June 4-July 5, 2016
Curated by Joel Javier and Melissa Smith

Intuit's Teacher Fellowship Program Student Exhibition will showcase participants in the 2015-2016 Teacher Fellowship Program. Inspired by self-taught and outsider art, students transform found and non-traditional materials into art pieces that reflect their personal visions. A free, family-friendly opening reception will feature a dance performance by Franklin Fine Arts School elementary students and a drum performance by Vaughn High School students.

The Teacher Fellowship Program is Intuit's award-winning professional development program for teachers from Chicago Public Schools that reaches more than 600 students across Chicago annually. The core value of the program is enabling teachers to give their students an opportunity to translate their personal vision to art-making using non-traditional materials in a non-judgmental environment: Each person has creative potential. By participating in the program, teachers collaborate with colleagues on a lesson plan to help their students integrate the characteristics of outsider art into cross-disciplinary arts learning. Intuit's Teacher Fellowship Program is sponsored in part by generous grants from the Crown Family Philanthropies, the Polk Bros Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The 24 teachers whose students will be represented in the exhibition are from 13 participating Chicago Public Schools, including: Alexander Graham Bell School, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, John W. Garvy Elementary, Gillespie Tech Elementary, Morton School of Excellence, Nettelhorst Elementary School, Ogden International School, Jose Clemente Orozco Academy, Vaughn High School, STEM Magnet Academy, Thomas J. Waters Elementary, Mary Lyon Elementary and Franklin Fine Arts School.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition:
The Huffington Post

To learn more about Intuit's Teacher Fellowship Program, click here.

Steve Moseley Patience Bottles

Photo courtesy of Steve Moseley

Photo courtesy of Steve Moseley

April 12-July 5, 2016
Curated by Leonard Cicero

Steve Moseley’s craft all started with building ships in bottles. Moseley has a chemistry degree from the University of Louisville, but after becoming a stay-at-home dad, he decided he needed a hobby.  As a child he built model aircrafts and decided to venture into the genre of ship building instead. It wasn’t until 2006, when Moseley moved to St. Louis, MO from Cincinnati, OH that he discovered the concept of “whimsey bottles.”  ‘Whimsey Bottles’ are small scenes and objects built inside of bottles. These are not the typical ‘Ship in a bottle’ pieces, but rather scenes or objects that are more meaningful to the artist creating them. This concept sparked Moseley’s imagination. If a ship could be put together in a bottle, almost anything could. Moseley’s bottles transformed from ships to scenes of various figures made from basswood and a two-part clay mixture.

The most common themes Moseley uses are religion, sex and politics.  He uses religion as a base to portray current social and political issues. For example, his piece “The Last McSupper,” a rendering of The Last Supper, becomes a metaphor for the current issue of fast food in our society. Portraying Jesus and his disciples enjoying McDonald’s fast food and fountain drinks forces the viewer to think about what is sacred and what is profane. Moseley brings a highly intellectual component to his pieces. Viewers are not only faced with controversy of the subject matter, but the complexity of the infrastructure. Most of the bottles Moseley uses are alcohol bottles and as a native Kentuckian, most often they are those once used to contain Steve’s preferred elixir, bourbon. This in itself creates another level of irony when subjects as sacred as Jesus are shown inside containers as classless as a favored spirit. This juxtaposition is what makes the artwork so attention grabbing. Moseley loves to present his work in such a way that could be seen as humorous to some, and insulting to others.

Although most of the works are religious based, Moseley often made bottle scenes containing people he knew and cared about. After finishing a bottle portraying a friend or family member, he would send it to them, feeling no need to keep it. Steve has made bottles for artists such as Dale Chihuly, Ted Gordon, J.J. Cromer, and Theresa Disney.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition:
Brut Force

“Untitled”, Gelatin Silver Print and Ink, 4.75″ x 3.75″, n.d. Collection of Scott H. Lang. Photo courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center

“Untitled”, Gelatin Silver Print and Ink, 4.75″ x 3.75″, n.d. Collection of Scott H. Lang. Photo courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center

April 8-July 5, 2016
Curated by Karen Patterson

A prolific self-taught artist and a fixture on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lee Godie (1908-1994) became well-known in the Chicago arts scene in the 1960s. Self-portraits are prevalent throughout Godie’s portfolio of work but most significant are those taken in automatic photo booths in Chicago bus stations. Godie used the booths as an experimental space where, away from the busy streets, she could explore multiple personae with the aid of costumes, props and physical expression. The resulting black-and-white photographs were embellished by hand and sold individually or attached to larger works as the artist’s signature. Today, the 5-inch by 4-inch gelatin silver prints are among Godie’s most sought-after pieces.

Curated by Karen Patterson of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Lee Godie: Self-Portraits is the first exhibition explicitly showcasing a selection of Godie’s photo booth self-portraits. A departure from Godie’s more familiar paintings and drawings, more than 50 photographs provide viewers with an authentic glimpse into the artist’s complex and imaginative personality.

Godie’s work can be found among the permanent collections at the American Folk Art Museum in New York, Milwaukee Art Museum, Arkansas Arts Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Lee Godie: Self-Portraits was organized by The John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The Arts Center extends its gratitude to BMO Harris Bank, Herzfeld Foundation and Sargento Foods, Inc. for major support of this exhibition and to the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding also was provided by the members of the Exhibitions & Collections Giving Circle. In addition, Arts Center programs are made possible by the generous support of its members.

Visit the following links to read recent coverage of this exhibition:
Chicago Reader
Chicago Splash Magazine
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tonight
Time Out Chicago
Third Coast Review

Click here to read curator Karen Patterson's essay on the exhibition.

Photo courtesy of Visionaries + Voices

Photo courtesy of Visionaries + Voices

February 5-May 29, 2016
Curated by Matt Arient

Considered one of Cincinnati's most talented contemporary artists, Cooper uses a ballpoint pen to draw intricate aerial scenes of his home city. Cooper's dynamic maps are drawn on re-purposed paper collected from his job at a Kroger grocery store, a chain based in Cincinnati. Each map is created completely from memory and frequently incorporates text to supplement detailed drawings. Depicted within the many pen strokes is a unique moment in time, as experienced by Cooper while walking through Cincinnati's neighborhoods. Cooper's work has been exhibited locally, regionally, and nationally, notably at the Cincinnati Art Museum and has been included in Manifest Gallery's National Drawing Catalog.

"The history of maps as art goes back hundreds, if not thousands, of years," explains exhibition curator and Intuit board Vice President Matt Arient. "Courttney Cooper's hand drawn maps of Cincinnati add another layer to this long legacy. Stitched together from various pieces of recycled paper-reminiscent of road maps often stuffed in car doors and pockets-the level of detail Courttney lays out speaks to our innate sense of both memory and place."

Since early 2004, Cooper has been creating his work with Visionaries + Voices, a non-profit organization that provides representation, studio space, supplies and support to more than 140 visual artists with disabilities.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition:
Disparate Minds

For more information about Visionaries + Voices, visit

Photo by John Faier

Photo by John Faier

January 15-March 27, 2016
Curated by David Syrek

David Syrek, Intuit board member and co-curator of 2014’s Collective Soul exhibition, curates Caparena: The Clarence and Grace Woolsey Figures. “This is a story of discovery and dissemination,” said Syrek. “I find the Woolsey figures incredibly sophisticated. Although these sculptures have long been considered consummate examples of outsider art, they defy categorization. The work becomes iconic and totemic in the context of contemporary art.”

In 1993, after their deaths, more than 200 sculptural pieces made by Clarence and Grace Woolsey were discovered in Grace’s brother’s barn in Lincoln, Iowa, and sold at auction for a total of $57.  The bottle cap-covered works were widely dispersed, with only seven remaining in Iowa by 1994.  The Woolseys’ work quickly found its way into the art market and is recognized among the most significant American non-traditional art of recent years. The Caparena exhibition brings significant figural works of this scattered collection back to the Midwest.  

Clarence Woolsey (1929-1987) was a rodeo rider in Kansas until he married Grace Zingg (?-1992) at age 18.  The couple moved to rural Iowa, where they worked as farmhands for the remainder of their lives.  One snowy night in 1961, the Woolseys began using their household collection of bottle caps to create small sculptures.  Over the course of a decade, they created pieces ranging from small churches and windmills to life-sized animal- and human-like figures.  As they progressed, the sculptures became more complex and whimsical, referencing nursery rhymes, fairy tales and other children’s stories.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition:
The Huffington Post